Eric Shea

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Next Wave Woman: Nicki Bluhm

Nicki Bluhm and her band infuse timeless Americana with R&B grooves, soulful emotiveness and a pop sophistication that contrasts complex musicianship with catchy melodies. Where many rootsy musicians are content to recreate the past, Nicki’s music innovatively blends multiple elements into her own inimitable tone.

1029_Women_Leadership_NickiLike many talents of the 21st century, Nicki Bluhm was discovered on YouTube. She and her band The Gramblers are music lovers and music lifers – they even play and record songs while riding in their van between gigs. After posting a “van session” cover of the Hall & Oates hit “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” the video is currently approaching three million views. Read More →

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Fan Faves and Who Should Have Made the Cut

Like most music lovers, we at Pandora are equally excited and opinionated about this year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. Being that our main headquarters is in Oakland, we’re extra proud that East Bay punk-pop heroes Green Day were inducted – we’re also stoked that Pandora listeners made their hit “Good Riddance” one of the top thumbed up songs from this year’s inductees! And isn’t it about time that Bill Withers made the cut? Anyone who’s seen his awesome 2009 documentary Still Bill probably agrees – as do those of you who thumbed “Ain’t No Sunshine” into our top thumbs. And you don’t have to be a “blues lawyer” to argue the importance of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s induction.

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Inside The Collection: Stoner Rock

This year, for April 20th, I made a mammoth mixtape: 420 Stoner Rock. And yes, this mix is exactly 420 songs deep with bands old and new. For the record, I can’t stand the term “stoner rock.” In my opinion, it pigeonholes an entire population of musicians as nothing more than dimwitted stoners with loud guitars. But listen to this mix and you’ll hear how the genre offers up much more. Calling something “stoner rock” reminds me of the early ‘90s when snarky music writers similarly dismissed bands like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh as “slacker rock.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.33.11 PMThe origins of stoner rock can be found in a movement that was coined, “desert rock.” In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there was a community of musicians based in the Palm Desert of Southern California who blended bits of classic hard rock, blues, psychedelia, heavy metal and hardcore. This scene spawned such bands as Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss, Nebula, Fu Manchu and the aptly named collective The Desert Sessions. Of course the sound wasn’t just isolated to this region. For example, Monster Magnet hails from Red Bank, New Jersey. Red Fang are from Portland, Oregon and Mastodon are from Atlanta, Georgia. Northern California’s Sleep has often been regarded as the quintessential stoner rock band. They basically turned Black Sabbath into an entire genre. Read More →

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Fan Faves and Who Should Have Made the Cut

Like most music lovers, we at Pandora are equally excited and opinionated about this year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. Being that our main headquarters is in Oakland, we’re extra proud that East Bay punk-pop heroes Green Day were inducted – we’re also stoked that Pandora listeners made their hit “Good Riddance” one of the top thumbed up songs from this year’s inductees! And isn’t it about time that Bill Withers made the cut? Anyone who’s seen his awesome 2009 documentary Still Bill probably agrees – as do those of you who thumbed “Ain’t No Sunshine” into our top thumbs. And you don’t have to be a “blues lawyer” to argue the importance of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s induction.

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Next Wave Woman: Chelsea Wolfe

You’d be hard-pressed to find a female singer-songwriter who appeals to metalheads and folkies alike. Chelsea Wolfe’s beautifully somber songs somehow traverse both realms. Her music has been aptly described as “drone-metal-art-folk.” She melds the dark, drones of doom metal with stark piano notes and guitar arpeggios – over which she sings in a haunting tenor trill. Her own compositions aside, she can cover the 1939 folk staple “You Are My Sunshine” alongside Burzum’s 1992 Norwegian black metal dirge “Black Spell Of Destruction” while retaining her signature sound and style.

1029_Women_Leadership_ChelseaChelsea began recording herself in her father’s home studio at age nine. When she began playing live, Chelsea preferred to perform in unorthodox locations like deserted nuclear plants, cathedrals and basements. Her lauded 2010 debut album The Grime and the Glow was recorded on a vintage eight-track. Her sophomore album Apokalypsis was tracked in a proper studio, but for Chelsea’s third full-length, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, she chose to record deep in the woods of Northern California. Read More →

Day 4: Discovery Den’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Finale

The fourth and final day of Pandora’s SXSW Discovery Den was heavy with diversity and ended with one of Austin’s heaviest hitters. Four days of hard work, some sweat, some rain, a lot of BBQ and so, so much music came to it’s grand finale last night.

Here are some of the highlights…

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Zella Day introduced herself telling the audience that they’re “…very badass for standing in the rain.” The packed crowd reciprocated her love and modesty with hoots and hollers. If I had to compare Day to someone it would be a younger Aimee Mann and some of her songs have a beautiful darkness that sounds very informed by Fiona Apple. Her set opened with “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” a swooning, soaring amorous pop song that compares her muse to Clint Eastwood’s iconic western anti-hero. The standout song for me was “Milk & Honey,” it had the bouyancy of sunny California indie-pop. Another standout was her closing song, “Hypnotic,” a sultry insta-hit with a hard and heavy groove. Read More →

Americana Burned Through The Rain On Day 3 Of Discovery Den

Americana fans are troopers, they braved the hard, pouring rain. It was awesome to see a bunch of people still digging it as if the sun was out and shining. And I can understand why, every one of these acts set the stage on fire.

Here’s a bit of what happened on Day 3 of Discovery Den…

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Before the rain came down, Andrew Combs set the tone in more friendly Austin weather. From the first verse of the first song, he and his band reminded me of early Whiskeytown, but more sophisticated and studied. He’s blending a lot of old school country and soul into his own tone. He sound-checked with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” from Nashville Skyline, but he didn’t play it live. Would love to hear his full take on that one. Combs’ rhythm section was solid. Read More →

Pandora Discovery Den 2015: Day 4

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We’re following Friday’s feast of Americana with a plethora of sweet Saturday rock ambrosia. Brooklyn basted Ex Cops set the tone with indie pop confectionary perfection. Imagine all the flavors of vintage Sarah Records sprinkled over a glossy, synthy foundation.

Next up, Zella Day’s beautifully bittersweet melodies intertwine with the complex flavors that can only come from a magically produced concoction of keyboard wizardry, next-level production and timeless melodies culled from a lifelong collection of vintage vinyl. Read More →

Pandora Discovery Den 2015: Day 3

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For SXSW’s Friday menu, Pandora offers hearty courses of tangy, twangy Americana – beginning with a serving of Andrew Combs’ sophisticated songs. You’ll detect hints of Ryan Adams on the surface, but the deeper flavors recall Guy Clark and Mickey Newbury.

Follow this up with a side of Israel Nash’s desert folklore. Dripping with buttery vocal inflections and timeless guitar tones, Nash cooks up the kind of Neil Young inspired love songs that would make Lucinda Williams blush. Read More →

The Fundamentals Of Soul

Honoring the Fundamentals Of Soul gave us an opportunity to take you through a journey that explores the vast galaxies that comprise a thriving universe of blues, soul, hip-hop, jazz, rock and Afro-Latino music. We’ll touch on foundational star constellations and the orbiting planets of our Soul System in a new selection of stations, debuting on Pandora now, during Black History Month: http://www.pandora.com/music/fundamentals-of-soul

Click the image to explore deeper:

918_Constellation Read More →

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